Georgia withdraws from national consortium

ATLANTA — A decision made by state officials last week may change the outlook some for local school systems.

The Georgia Department of Education announced Monday that Georgia is withdrawing from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, test development consortium.

Georgia was one of 22 states to join PARCC several years ago with the aim of developing next generation student assessments in mathematics and English language arts by 2014-15.

Former Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews reported last year that each consortium would be able to compare individual classroom, school, district and state results with other consortium members in the 20-something states on an apples to apples basis for the first time in history.

Another 20-something states were part of another consortium called SMARTER Balance that will develop its own common core assessments.

“After talking with district superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents, lawmakers and members of many communities, I believe this is the best decision for Georgia’s students,” State Superintendent of Schools John Barge said in a press release. “We must ensure that our assessments provide educators with critical information about student learning and contribute to the work of improving educational opportunities for every student.”

Mathews reported that several NCSS personnel attended a special training session at the Griffin Regional Educational Service Agency to discuss the new tests that were expected to be administered to students beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

Mathews noted at the time that the assessments would require the addition of more technology.

Barge expressed concerns over the technology requirements for PARCC’s online tests since many Georgia school districts do not have the needed equipment or bandwidth to handle administering the assessments, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

The GaDOE reported that Barge was one of the state school chiefs serving on the governing board for the consortium, but he frequently voiced concerns about the cost of the PARCC assessments. The tests in English/language arts and math are estimated to cost significantly more money than Georgia currently spends on its entire testing program.

“Assessing our students’ academic performance remains a critical need to ensure that young Georgians can compete on equal footing with their peers throughout the country,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in the press release. “Georgia can create an equally rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test. Just as we do in all other branches of state government, we can create better value for taxpayers while maintaining the same level of quality.”

The GaDOE said it will work with educators across the state to create standardized tests aligned to Georgia’s current academic standards in mathematics and English/language arts for elementary, middle and high school students. Additionally, the state will seek opportunities to collaborate with other states.

State officials report that creating the tests in Georgia will ensure that the state maintains control over its academic standards and student testing, whereas a common assessment would have prevented the GaDOE from being able to adjust and rewrite Georgia’s standards when educators indicate revisions are needed to best serve students.

“We are grateful to Georgia educators who have worked hard to help develop our standards and assessments,” Barge said. “We look forward to continuing to work with them to develop a new assessment system for our state.”

In 2012, Georgia and several other states received waivers to free them from requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act and recently has implemented the Georgia College and Career Ready Performance Index.


Citizen19 2 years, 1 month ago

Once again GA punts on education. It seems that anytime something may require a little more effort to do GA is against it. Much of this problem lies deep in GA's underfunded school system. We pay ESPLOST here in Newton County that money could be used to purchase the needed technology and bandwith needed for the online tests. Instead of making excuses of how the state can't meet that level of funding they just need to realize this is an investment in young people. We see where Deal's principals and ideas are give away billions in tax breaks to companies like Kia, Baxter and Delta leaving nothing for our young people. We need to shift our focus from helping business to how can we help more young people attend colleges!


Sahara 2 years, 1 month ago

I agree wholeheartedly. It's one of the reason I quit working for the state. They have all these ideas but the slightest hurdle is a reason to stop everything. They are not solution-oriented at all and seem to be perfectly content maintaining the status quo.


Citizen19 2 years, 1 month ago

We can also see this punt attitude here on the local level. Instead of improving education an increasing test score the BOE decides to spend what little money we have on cameras. If your child can't behave he or she does not need to be in class where they can disrupt others who want to learn. Even with a new superintendent comming on board I don't see much of the do nothing culture going away. The BOE is happy that they might get to build another school , but will that improve test scores? Alcovy is the most costly school in the district to run and it was pegged as the most modern school in the county. Has anything good come out of there? Oh yes the Carpenter's left! That was a win just sad the BOE payed them $70,000 to go away that money could have been used to help the kids. Shows you where your local BOE ideas lie.


John 2 years, 1 month ago

The old adage "with the lack of a standard (to be measured by) any level of performance is acceptable" may apply hear. People just hate being measured but luv that fingerpointing. There is one "good news" thing sorta' about Georgia's public school system rankings - Mississippi is still behind them (both are just a step or two from anchoring last place nationally) - been that way for the last 17 years - even with some money motivated cheating going on in and around Atlanta.


dennistay53 2 years, 1 month ago

Agree with most of the comments above. When my grandson questioned the need for these cameras in the ESPLOST debate Stone didn't even want to let him speak. As I said then plenty of money going to the school system but not being used for the right purposes. Now we have replaced two schools but the schools replaced still standing and requiring tax dollars to keep up and maintain. Plus we are getting conflicting stores as to whether there is money in the budget to tear them down. Seem there is very poor communication in Newton's school system. I still say SPLOST should be revamped so it can be used to hire and maintain good teachers because this is where the schools will improve, not with new buildings. Heck I made all A's in high school being taught in a doublewide trailer.


Citizen19 2 years, 1 month ago

There will never be any changes to SPLOST or ESPLOST because the GA legislature controls these programs. When Ga Reps visited covington I asked Sen. Ramsey if he would consider writing a bill that would allow school districts to use ESPLOST funding as they saw fit. This would allow for money to buy books , maintian buildings which we will not have to rebuild and support teacher salary. He seemed to dodge this question instead he highlighted the Porterdale drug program he did not say anything about education except its underfunded. We need to force the legislature to reform ESPLOST along with SPLOST this is a tax that hits everyone!


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